Business leaders respond to Cameron’s speech on Europe
Today, the Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech on Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
In the speech he outlined his commitment to hold a referendum on the UK’s future in Europe, if he wins the next election.
A subject that affects business owners in the region, here is how business leaders reacted to the speech.
Richard Ayre, chairman of the Institute of Directors in the South West, comments: “The South West is a hotbed of interest in export markets so there’s great eagerness to understand Mr Cameron’s approach to Europe.
“Many IoD members export so it’s in everyone’s interests for our EU trading relationship to continue, and I am sure it will.
“New markets aren’t all about our nearest neighbours, however. There’s a much bigger picture than Europe and it’s vital that we continue to make great strides in other far-flung markets.
“In fact, the British public and many of our members remain sceptical about some EU institutions and practices so the Prime Minister’s approach in this instance seems realistic and pragmatic.
“Free movement of goods and people is hugely important for our economy, and we need to preserve that situation. At the same time, there are concerns about large amounts of costly regulation being introduced through unaccountable processes.
“The IoD will enthusiastically take part in the process of proposing powers to renegotiate and to bring back to Westminster.
“A future referendum to decide the workings of our relationship is the best way to affirm Britain’s participation in a free-market Europe which is competitive and deregulated.”
Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West comments:“The vast majority of businesses across the UK want to stay in the single market, but on the basis of a revised relationship with Europe that promotes trade and competitiveness.
“In a survey we ran last year business views were pretty clear – only 12% of firms wanted to leave the EU altogether whilst just under half (47%) felt the best way forward was to negotiate a looser relationship.
“It is of critical importance to business and to Britain’s national interest that we have access to the European market, but not at any cost.
The government needs to carefully consider how we can get a single market that works for business, while ensuring that legislation from Brussels doesn’t damage our economic prospects.”
In December 2012 NSBL met with Dr Liam Fox, who is MP for North Somerset and a eurosceptic, to discuss the subject of the UK’s relationship with the European Union.
He commented at the time: “My preference is for a changed relationship with the EU, back in effect, to a common market.
“Life outside of the European Union would look like a common market without the social chapter, legal intervention and masses of EU regulation.
“Business would be better off in a new relationship and that is why we need a referendum at a sensible point in time.
“We have never been given a democratic choice on this issue and actually set out what we want our relationship with Europe to look like.”